By DR. FLORANGEL ROSARIO BRAID
It was back in early 2016 when Chinese workers started to come – by the hundreds, then gradually by the thousands, and by mid- 2018, their number had increased to 3.12 million. This, according to the Bureau of Immigration, which also reported that a third of alien employment permits given from 2015 to 2017 were given to Chinese nationals.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello says that the online gaming industry which has attracted thousands of Chinese tourists had fueled the rise of Chinese workers who are fluent in the Chinese language. He further noted that the other jobs that they occupy are those that Filipinos cannot perform.
While our labor force was being flooded by workers from China, the number of our own workers seeking jobs overseas had already reached 2.2 million in 2016. The unemployment rate in the country was 5.1% in 2018 which is above China’s 3.82%. China’s GDP last year was 6.5%, ahead of the Philippines’ 6.1%.
Amidst all this controversy, President Duterte tells his men to “approach this problem carefully” so as not to ignite China’s ire as the latter may retaliate by sending back thousands of our Filipino workers who are now in China. The case of the latter is altogether different as they have legal employment status.
Ramon Tulfo, who is special envoy to China further stoked the smouldering resentment of many of our countrymen when he compared Chinese workers with our own, describing the latter as “lazy, slowpoke,” and the like. And he refused to apologize for what he had said.
Our labor force may not be at the top of the line, but they certainly do not deserve the insult. Perhaps they may not be as motivated as some of their Asian counterparts, but they problem primarily stems from the present work environment and the lack of adequate incentives. Abroad, as many have observed, the work very hard and thrive under the harshest conditions.
Our Constitution – Article XII (National Economy and Patrimony), Sections 12 and 14 has also something to say about influx of millions of these illegal alien Chinese workers and others
seeking to compete with our own labor force. According to Section 12, “the State shall promote the preferential use of Filipino labor, materials, and locally produced goods,” and Section
14 states that “the practice of all professions shall be limited to Filipino citizens.”
It will also be remembered that Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had warned us about the dangers of foreign direct investment which brings with it foreign labor. Mahathir said it could “disturb the political equations, and thus, the need to put some limits to it.”
Even our local businessmen had observed that the presence of foreign workers had driven up property prices, taken away jobs from the locals, and had further affected tax revenues.
These threats, among the many challenges posed by the influx of foreign workers, should help the citizen voter decide wisely during the coming mid-term election.